A group of House Republicans has sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and other top education officials seeking answers over claims that some schools have used COVID funds for Critical Race Theory instruction.
The letter from GOP members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY), Committee on Education and Labor Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC), along with members of both groups, demands responses regarding the reports on federal funding used in “racially biased” programs.
“Committees on Oversight and Reform and Education and Labor Republicans are investigating the use of COVID-19 relief dollars appropriated for virus mitigation and the safe reopening of schools. Based on recent reports, the Department of Education is allowing Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and related COVID relief funds to pay for racially biased and other progressive leftist programs,” the Republican lawmakers wrote.
🚨 Democrat-run states are using COVID funds to pay for CRT instead of addressing students’ learning loss from school closures.
@RepJamesComer & @virginiafoxx are leading a probe into @usedgov to protect taxpayer dollars from funding radical curriculum.https://t.co/fIfaYOfUYL
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) September 14, 2022
“Specifically, Congress created the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund to enable schools to safely reopen and address learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those taxpayer dollars, however, are being used to indoctrinate children in core tenets of leftist ideology,” the letter added.
Congress included $13.2 billion in the CARES Act and another $54.3 billion in the ESSER Fund under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act during the pandemic. Congressional Democrats also recently pushed for an additional $120 billion in ESSER funding, according to the lawmakers.
Instead of using ESSER funds to address these dramatic learning losses, the Republicans say that some states are spending taxpayer dollars to push leftist causes.
“New York used part of the $9 billion it received to provide staff development on ‘culturally responsive sustaining instruction’ and ‘privilege’ and to recognize ‘equity warriors,’” the letter stated. “At least ten other state plans included proposals to use the ESSER funds to implement racially biased curriculum and programs based on Critical Race Theory.”
The letter cited a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research that addressed learning declines during the pandemic to highlight the need to use COVID-related funding toward essential educational programs.
“Passing rates in math declined by 14.2 percentage points on average; we estimate this decline was 10.1 percentage points smaller for districts fully in-person,” the report stated.
The learning decline was also reportedly more significant in school districts with larger numbers of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches.
“Changes in English language arts scores were smaller, but were significantly larger in districts with larger populations of students who are Black, Hispanic or eligible for free and reduced price lunch,” the report added.
The Republicans requested “all documents and communications” related to the COVID-related funding in California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey. The letter also seeks information on “the training or teaching on subjects related to Critical Race Theory, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and/or other racially biased training and/or programs” supported by the ESSER funds.